Police offer advice on buying home surveillance systems

(File photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Blackburn case has put home safety on many minds, especially for the neighbors of the family. It has influenced many to buy security or surveillance cameras.

Police said if you want to do it yourself, spend within your means. Systems we saw at Menards were as low as $150 to $500. But it’s really not the price tag you should be looking it. Police said it’s the features that come with home surveillance that should determine which system you buy.

Every picture tells a story. The ones on the pages Steve Dubois, director of Central Indiana Crime Stoppers and an IMPD Sergeant, flipped through were about burglaries.

“I can almost tell immediately when it’s home video,” he said as he looked down at images of burglary suspects caught on camera. “Even though it’s pretty far away you can see some pretty good face definition.”

From facial features to clothing to a getaway vehicle, Dubois said the elements in the pictures are crucial to solving a crime.

“You put this up on Facebook or something with us and you know we’re going to start getting tips,” he said. “For burglary detectives that’s a big boost. Because usually they start off with nothing. They’ll be lucky, hopefully they get some forensics there maybe but if they don’t then they’re back to did somebody see something.”

On Sunnyfield Court the morning of November 10, a camera on a home caught a glimpse of one of the men suspected of killing Amanda Blackburn as he walked down the sidewalk.

“Obviously it was part of the puzzle so that’s definitely good,” said homeowner Kurt Baker, whose cameras witnessed the suspect. He was glad to have helped investigators, but the scare influenced him to buy more cameras, specifically the type that are high definition.

“Hopefully it’s a little bit better, quite a bit better,” he said regarding the video quality.

Dubois said a clear image, especially one that’s color, is something customers should look into. He added to make sure the video format is user friendly, meaning a MP4, MPEG, or MOV file. He said those type of files are the easiest to hand over to investigators.

“If you can use the (video) without a whole lot of conversion and you don’t need your IT guy standing next to you, that’s a decent system,” he said.

Lastly, he said it’s worth paying a little bit more to get wireless cameras.

“I probably wouldn’t install a system that wasn’t wireless because you can put those cameras anywhere. There’s nothing that’s going to keep you from mounting that camera on a wall, in a tree, out in your kids clubhouse on top of it,” he said.

At the end of the day, Dubois said simply having a surveillance system, even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, is better than nothing. But he adds homeowners shouldn’t only rely on cameras to deter criminals.

“I think it will prevent somebody as long as your home is also hardened. If you have an open door and there’s a video camera over it, they’re still going to go through an open door,” he said.

Baker said he’s had success keeping criminals away in the past thanks to his cameras, referencing an incident in his driveway several years ago. “You could see that when they tried to break into my car they saw the cams and they ran,” he said.

Dubois said when installing cameras, don’t put them directly over a door or point of entry. He said to make sure the camera has a broad view. He even suggested putting a wireless camera in a tree in the front yard and having it face the home.

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